Looking for your first developer role? Don’t mess it up. Read my tips.

Pick your role

Decide what role you want to apply for: backend, frontend, or full-stack. Pick one. Even if you are a beginner and could easily be molded into any of these roles, you still have to choose your starting point.

Once you decide, everything you do next must take into account the role you picked. You can’t apply to a frontend developer role and have your resume highlighting all your backend and DevOps skills. You can, but you’d be stretching yourself thin.

Everything you do must send a strong signal that you’re an excellent fit for the exact role you are applying to.

Consider remote

Don’t tie yourself to a specific area if you don’t need to. The best companies are not within a 20km radius of your home; they’re all over the world.

While remote work is not for everybody, it might be for you. Especially now, with the global pandemic going on, more and more companies are looking for remote employees. Apply globally.

Small vs Big company

While it’s great to have the opportunity to try and fail in different areas, smaller companies usually have fewer rules and systems in place to prevent you from developing bad habits: writing untested code, not versioning your products, cow-boy changing the production code, etc. Larger companies are much more organized (to a point), but they will keep you in a box, or a series of boxes – you won’t be able to play around with as many technologies as you could in a smaller company.

Working at a big company can transform you into a well-paid expert in a specific field. Working at a small company forces you to learn many different skills that will be handy if you decide to go on your own.

Research

  • google the company name and find everything they are doing: every project, open source initiatives, sponsored conferences, twitter, youtube, facebook, everything.
  • ask your friends if they have friends of friends that work or used to work in that company.
  • stalk a few employees. Are they on twitter? Check what they tweet about. Twitting dumb stuff doesn’t make you a moron, but it does raise some red flags. On the other hand, you might find them interesting to follow and learn from.

Portfolio

It would be great if you have one, but it’s not a deal-breaker, especially if you’ve been busy with other things, like being in college, for example. But if you do have it, you shouldn’t include all the projects you’ve ever worked on. Pick the ones you think were the most challenging and even more important, pick the ones that reflect the skills demanded by the job you are applying to.

You should be able to explain why you used a particular technology or library. What problems and challenges you went through, and what were your solutions. Even more important, and this is super important: What would you have done differently?

After every project, there is this internal regret “if I could’ve only done x, things would have been easier.” Knowing and explaining what could have been done differently shows you can learn and grow from what you’ve worked on.

Master the basics

Nobody expects junior developers to understand complex concepts: design patterns, DDD, BDD, and other acronyms even seniors struggle with. Focus on and master the basics and display your willingness to learn, passion, and curiosity – those are the main things employers look for when hiring for junior roles.

Resume

Keep it simple. Nobody cares about the template you’re using. Have clear headings, use an easy to read font, and make it as short as possible. People scan, they don’t read. Nobody has time to go over your 5-page-long resume, no matter how impressive you think it looks. And again, focus on the role you’re applying to.

Sending the resume

Keep your email short and name your resume appropriately: FIRSTNAME_LASTNAME_CV.pdf.

Hi,

My name is Frank Blue. I saw you are looking to hire a junior backend developer and I think I am a good fit for the role. I’ve attached my resume bellow.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Frank

Sample contact e-mail

Interview

Do your best to stay relaxed. Don’t lie and don’t pretend you know something when you clearly don’t. Just say “I don’t know. I think I heard about it, but I’m not really sure how it works.” Also, when you get in this situation, ask the interviewer if they care to explain you whatever they asked; it’s a great way for you to find out if you even want to work with them.


That’s it. Did I miss anything?

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